By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jessica M. Bailey, Commander Task Force 73 Public Affairs
The U.S. Coast Guardâ€™s Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSSTs) lent its specialized training to the sixth annual Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism (SEACAT) exercise which concluded Aug. 21.
SEACAT was an at-sea, scenario-driven, fleet training exercise involving the U.S. along with six Southeast Asian countries tracking and boarding simulated critical contacts of interest.
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. David Alvarez, a planning action officer specializing in Maritime Security Operations for the Coast Guardâ€™s Pacific Area Command, said the exercise is not only beneficial for the hands-on and live-action training experience, but also opens the door for information sharing and learning for everyone involved.
The Coast Guardsmen who also played a part in the recently completed Combined Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise, hope the MSST's contribution to SEACAT helped in linking regional stability to the ideals of cooperation and the promotion of sovereign partnerships between the U.S. and the participating nations.
â€œThe MSSTs were involved in the CARAT phase as subject matter experts (SMEs) and engaged with Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei in naval boarding exercises,â€ Alvarez said. â€œFor the SEACAT phase we are serving as evaluators aboard the Military Sealift Command ships that have been the exercise target vessels. The Coast Guard has subject matter expertise in a broad range of maritime venues -â€“ a further measure would be the growth of those SMEs exported through CARAT/SEACAT.â€
Alvarez said this was his first year with CARAT/SEACAT as the planning action officer, and he saw where the Coast Guard's participation positively impacted their SEACAT partners.
â€œIf our participation in the CARAT/SEACAT exercise
allows us the ability to better prepare our partners for the hazards of tomorrow by providing SMEs to close some of the maritime safety, security or environmental gaps, then weâ€™ve done our job,â€ he said.
SEACAT was a weeklong, at-sea exercise designed to highlight the value of information sharing and multinational coordination within a scenario that gave participating navies practical maritime interception training opportunities.
There are a total of 13 MSST teams located on the East and West coasts of the United States, including teams in Alaska and Hawaii. MSST personnel receive training in advanced tactical boat operations and anti-terrorism/force protection at the Special Missions Training Center at Camp Lejeune, N.C.